When she was a 5-year-old growing up in Hartford, Connecticut, Florida Grand Opera general director Susan T. Danis performed in her first dance recital. Dressed in a Spanish costume, she moved to the haunting sounds of La Habanera, the famous aria from Carmen. That wasn’t precisely the moment she fell in love with the arts, but it set her up for a deeper experience just a few years later.
“I was fortunate to be a child who benefited from arts education in the schools. When I was in third grade, artists from the Hartford Ballet and the Connecticut Opera would come into our classrooms. When we were sitting in those tiny desks, a 5’4” dancer or an opera singer seemed like a giant,” Danis recalls.
“Then they took us to the Bushnell Auditorium to a performance of Carmen. I was sitting in the second tier, and I was transfixed from the moment the curtain went up until the end. I knew La Habanera from my dance recital. I didn’t realize then that they were singing unamplified. And there was also a lot of dance, and a whole drama that I felt. It awakened an overall love of the arts in me.”